WASHINGTON: America’s young people today suffer from an acute sense of dissatisfaction with with the world and a lack of fulfillment. What they don’t know is they have been purposefully disconnected from their country’s founding history. This is the direct result of our biased educational systems and mainstream media. Both radical institutions promote an acceptance of atheism and atheistic views without acknowledging religious and philosophical alternatives such as today’s conservativsm and libertarianism. They endorse socialism and avoid mentioning individualism, one of this country’s core values.
Going back in time to earlier American history, we come upon the phenomenon of the American transcendental movement, or “Transcendentalism.” Derived to some extent from Unitarianism, American transcendentalism was a quasi-religious approach to life, morals and individualism. It gained many American adherents beginning in the 1820s and 1830s. Emerson and Thoreau were perhaps its most famous adherents and philosophers. As today’s young Americans wander unmoored from their past traditions, now might be an excellent time to to reintroduce them to transcendentalism as it relates to today’s American libertarianism and conservatism.
Transcendentalism developed roughly 200 years ago as an influential American philosophy emphasizing the need for self-sufficiency and spiritual reassessment. According to one source, “[a] core belief of transcendentalism is in the inherent goodness of people and nature. Adherents believe that society and its institutions have corrupted the purity of the individual, and they have faith that people are at their best when truly ‘self-reliant’ and independent.”
Those who are aware of its origins and early impact can see that many of its ideas and precepts have morphed into modern libertarian thinking.
Early transcendentalists emphasized the power of human intuition and emotion to “transcend” reason and intellect. Whether individuals are aware of it or not, their philosophy’s rudimentary concepts have once again begun to gain influence over our growing conservative movement, particularly its libertarian strain.
The need for a moral system
Our Constitution in many ways reflected the moral foundations of Judeo-Christian belief. The vision and function of an ideal American society was based on the belief that the new country could achieve greatness if industrious, thinking people would band together and follow an accepted moral code. Historically, individual Americans have always been most productive when freed from the inevitable corruption of government institutions.
Our nation’s Founding Fathers firmly believed that liberty and justice were impossible without a connection with God. However, not wishing to infringe upon individual religious beliefs, they avoided establishing a state-accepted religion as they drafted the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In these foundational documents, they established the separation of Church and State to prevent the rise of a totalitarian and theocratic regime.
The freedom to think for oneself
While our Founders endorsed Judaeo-Christian morals and ethics, they did not wish to elevate a specific religion to the status of a state-supported religion. Hence, they wisely emphasized the need for all Americans to freely choose the religion they would profess. That is, the Founders declared that all Americans were free to worship as they chose.
All human beings possess the ability to dictate decisions and determine the appropriate path for their lives. Our founders hoped they’d created a country and a society that would enable citizens to make valid moral choices. This formed the fundamental basis of Transcendental, Libertarian, and ultimately conservative philosophy in America. Independent thinkers strongly believe in the elimination of crippling governmental regulations and bureaucratic interference in the lives of each citizen.
A decentralized government
Our Founders recognized the aggressive and acquisitive nature of most human beings. Humans are passionate and goal oriented. Colonists in the pre-United States era could easily see this reflected in the tyrannical regime of the British monarchy. The English King and his ministers worked tirelessly to keep the colonists under their complete control with confiscatory taxes. This tax regime, at least in part, massively increased the wealth of the crown and those most closely allied with the King.
Throughout history, the oppressed almost inevitably rebel. And that is precisely what most of the American colonists chose to do. In reaction to structural English tyranny, our Founders constructed a system of limited government elected by the people. Their primary goal was to guarantee fundamental rights each American citizen. Their system would allow citizens to prosper in the pursuit of happiness and prosperity while preventing excessive government intrusion.
Conserving a uniquely effective form of government
Once instituted and accepted, this new system led to the kind of intellectual freedom that gave rise to more open belief systems including Transcendentalism and Libertarianism. But ultimately, this evolution in thought also gave rise to modern conservatism.
Modern conservatism does not mean clinging to allegedly outmoded ideas. Its inherents believe in conserving the core beliefs of the Founding Fathers.
Unfortunately, in 21st Century America, radical leftist and socialist dogma has arisen and taken hold, supplanting libertarian and conservative thought. The rise of the Marxist left has obscured the original intent and function of government by attempting to invert the decentralized system carefully constructed by our Founders. The radical left’s intent is to replace it with the unresponsive, top-down system our revolutionary Founders fought to replace.
We have two things to blame for what happened to our social fabric.
- Loss of self-sufficiency; and
- Rapid growth of a hostile, highly partisan left-wing media culture.
What the radical left has accomplished: A diminished drive toward self-sufficiency
The radical left in America proclaims itself the sole representative of virtue in this country. Denouncing traditional American Judeo-Christian ideals and allied libertarian and conservative thought, the radical left claims that only they can provide goods and accommodations to the impoverished, primarily by taking them away from the “privileged.” Much of the left’s agenda claims that the poor cannot be self-reliant and independent. So radicals promote dependence on the government for for all human needs without taking into account human nature. And that nature includes the desire to improve one’s lot through passion, dedication and hard work. This country’s countless, failed welfare programs are one result.
By striving to make greater and greater numbers of citizens dependent on government, the left’s real agenda becomes clear. Thy intend to impose top-down control over the entire nation, much as King George III controlled his American colonists. But in a century where modern communications technologies abound, the left needs to preach its socialist dogma to the masses. Its pulpit of choice: its wholly owned subsidiary, today’s mass media companies.
How did the media change us?
Today’s so-called “mainstream media” (MSM) has become a major contributor to “progressive” — i.e., socialist — thought. The effect of this leftwing media dominance has dealt a potentially fatal blow to American constitutional democracy. The constant indoctrination by the MSM on behalf of its left-wing, government affiliated leaders, is to promote the false notion that “democratic socialism” is a success. But it has never been a success.
The core notion central to “democratic socialist” thinking is that the rich gain all their wealth through corrupt and illegal means. Those taken in by this media propaganda firmly believe that those deemed “privileged” by the left and its media allies are the incarnation of evil. They are held directly accountable by the left for the poverty of the unfortunate.
Unfortunately, the media does not give exposure to the crisis in South America with famine. Or Eastern Asia with human rights violations in relation to socialist referendums.
How is the mainstream media so singular?
Leftist radicals have won victory after victory by encouraging their adherents to deny personal responsibility. Nothing bad that happens to their supporters is their individual fault. Something has been “done” to them, so the government must compensate them in kind. Hence, the left’s wins in selling free healthcare, free education and free everything by defining the wealthy and the “privileged” as inherently evil.
Jordan Peterson brilliantly defines this anti-American ideology as a philosophy of resentment. That situation can only be resolved with higher taxes and concurrent income redistribution.
Today, this notion is not only promulgated by MSM propagandists. It has also constantly been promoted by educational institutions on all levels, creating successive generations of young voters who no longer support the core belief system that made America a great nation. They don’t even know what that system is.
Our current secular, redistributive government-imposed “morality” disregards what the Constitution says. That’s not a bug but a feature for the left. But to what end? Socialism has consistently failed the world on a massive scale. But do we need to learn this lesson again?
The destruction of our social fabric.
Today, a substantial number of our elected representatives are dedicated to obliterating the social fabric of America instead of strengthening it by following the constitution.
Our Western values have arrived at the brink of extinction, due in large part to the emergence and development of radical thinking in media culture. The results could soon prove irreversible and detrimental consequences to the very idea of America.
Therefore, we cannot let the radicals succeed in eradicating conservatism and libertarianism through government-directed media propaganda promiting a failed socialist model. Instead, we must educate every American citizen and strive to create a truly free and liberating nation for rising generations of young Americans. So we must again look toward transcendentalism, libertarianism and conservative ideals, all of which arose from the founding principles of our young nation.
—Headline image: Silhouette of Tree Near Body of Water during Golden Hour via Pixabay. (CC 0.0 license)